Fun and quirky ideas whatever your romantic situation
Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day affects us all, whether we’re single or married, looking for love or trying to avoid it altogether. With this in mind, the winged cherubs at Time Out Dubai have been fluttering around town collecting Valentine’s deals and activities to suit all your romantic needs and scenarios. We’ve also spoken to the gents who’ve popped the question in Dubai (and the ladies who’ve said ‘yes’), as well as highlighted the best places to escape smug, gooey-eyed couples or pull out the stops for your intended.
Relationship status: Single Single and proud? Looking for love? Whatever your intentions, you’ll want to know where to go to avoid the opposite sex or simply have a bit of fun.
Solo pampering: Though the signature 90-minute massage at Amara Spa is actually intended for two, there is a lonely hearts option (our words, not theirs) that features bubbly and strawberries in a private suite. Dhs650 for singles; Dhs1,290 for couples – not that you care. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 602 1660).
Anti Valentine’s at The Gramercy: Singletons who couldn’t give a monkeys about finding love can revel in their loneliness at The Gramercy, which has jazz performances and a special ‘anti-Valentine’ set menu, including subversively named dishes such as ‘Two-faced sea bass’ and ‘Don’t give a toss pasta’. More importantly, there’s 25 per cent off all food and house drinks. Prices vary. 6pm-midnight. The Gramercy, DIFC (04 437 7511).
Proud to be single Champions League Football: Gents looking to avoid women completely this Valentine’s Day should head to The Stables. Not only is the bar female-free at the best of times, it’ll be showing football (kryptonite to most women) in the form of round 16 of the Champions League, where German side Bayer Leverkusen host the mighty Barcelona. Free. 11.45pm. The Stables, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 342 5571).
Looking to mingle Party on a boat: If you’re lucky enough to be inundated with (single) friends, then get everyone to chip in and hire the kooky Gu Gu party boat, with Tiki-style thatched bar and umbrellas, a sound system, fridges for your drinks, and enough room for 90 singletons, who can get to know one other as the boat sails around the marina. Dhs4,000 per hour, or Dhs45 each (minimum two hours). Moored near Lotus Hotel, Dubai Marina (050 100 2477).
Valentine’s quiz at The Wharf: Sit out on the deck by the waters of Mina A’ Salam and see if you can find that special someone at the ‘Come and Meet your Valentine’ quiz night. Not the most orthodox way to find the love of your life, but worth a try. Single ladies receive a free glass of pink bubbly, and there are drinks deals for all. Prices vary. 7pm-1am. The Wharf, Mina A’ Salam, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
‘Aphrodite Celebration’ at The MED: The MED celebrates the benefits of being single with a special buffet and drinks deals to ‘heighten your senses and lower your inhibitions’. Ooh-er. Elsewhere in the hotel, ‘All the Single Ladies’ get four free drinks between 7pm and 10pm, with two drinks in Z:One and two beside the pool at M-DEK. Dhs249 (selected house beverages), Dhs59 (food only). 7pm-10.30pm. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 4271000).
Relationship status: Early days Taking someone you’ve only recently met for a romantic dinner or couples’ spa treatment might be a bit over the top on Valentine’s Day. As an alternative, try these more laid-back, casual options to get to know your new date.
Alternative dates Visit the penguins at Ski Dubai: Not quite ready to hug one another? Then hug penguins instead. The new penguin encounters at Ski Dubai enable guests to get up close and personal with these friendly birds. You can then wistfully recount your walk on the wild side over a drink in nearby Après (04 341 2575). Penguin encounter free with Snow Park entry (Dhs120 for adults, Dhs110 for kids). Up-close sessions from Dhs175. Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, www.skidxb.com (800 534 7873).
Cabaret night at Tchaikovsky Restaurant: This little-known Russian restaurant in Byblos Hotel Dubai Marina has a traditional and not-so-traditional series of cabaret performances every evening. The show starts at 10pm and lasts until 3am, but we’d advise booking dinner around 9pm (that way, if the date isn’t going well, awkward conversation will be drowned out by the music). What’s more, there’ll be special drinks promotions for ladies on Valentine’s night. Free entry. Show starts at 10pm. Byblos Hotel Dubai Marina (04 448 8222).
Play video games: What better way to get to know someone than challenge them to a dance-off, shoot zombies together, have a simulated space race or ride a rollercoaster? Sega Republic is the first port of call for couples looking to get in touch with their inner child. Dhs140 for a day pass; Dhs220 for a day pass plus Dhs200 credit for games. 10am-1am. Sega Republic, The Dubai Mall (04 448 8484).
Laid-Back dinner options Curry for two at Zafran: No, trust us on this – Zafran’s contemporary Indian offerings are light, interesting and tasty. Weather permitting, the balcony at the restaurant’s Marina Mall location offers great views and there’s the option of the cinema upstairs or Blends at The Address Marina Mall next door for a nightcap if the date is going well. If not, at least you won’t have spent a fortune – the Valentine’s menu is jaw-droppingly cheap. Dhs110 per couple (two courses; food only), Dhs142 per couple (three courses; food only). Dubai Marina Mall (04 399 7357).
Love is in the air… at Rock Bottom TECOM: Our advice: know your audience. Before you ask your date to a raucous bar featuring a live band going by the name of ‘The Power’, be sure your intended is the kind of person who’d appreciate that sort of thing. If they are, you’re on to a winner – this popular venue is offering a three-course Valentine’s meal with a glass of bubbly for Dhs250 per couple. Rock on. Dhs250 per couple. 7pm-3am. Rock Bottom, Ramee Rose Hotel, TECOM (055 600 5596).
Valentine’s Day with DJ Ralph K at Karma Kafé: Don’t worry, DJ Ralph won’t be sat at your table – he’ll be behind the decks spinning classic love songs from the ’70s and ’80s. More importantly, the special four-course Valentine’s menu and views of the Dubai Fountains make this a great place to impress without going OTT. Free entry. Dinner Dhs700 per couple (food only). 6pm-2am. Karma Kafé, Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 423 0909).
Relationship status: Long-term lovers Whether you’re looking to rekindle your romance or simply spend some quality time together, there are a number of relaxing, intimate options available in Dubai and beyond.
Spa Treatments Alternative pampering: This slightly unconventional, exercise-based approach to Valentine’s Day is perfect for couples who love the gym as much as each other. Ladies get a fitness analysis session, a personal training session, U Escape massage and the ‘ultimate knockout massage’; gents get a fitness analysis and two personal training sessions, as well as the knockout massage. Dhs999 per couple. Until February 29. U Energy, Building 4, Gate Village DIFC (055 919 6666).
Feel like an Ottoman emperor and empress: Enjoy an hour-long aromatherapy massage in the Talise Ottoman Spa’s huge couples’ suite, which features a private Jacuzzi, showers and lounging areas. A glass of bubbly and strawberries is served in the spa’s relaxation area afterwards. Dhs1,500 per couple. Until February 29. Talise Ottoman Spa, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah (04 453 0455).
Dinner The budget romantic: Couples who want to keep it low-key should head to Movies Under the Stars at Lakeview. There’s an Asian buffet and screenings of Sabrina at 7pm and Notting Hill at 9pm. Dhs150 (includes one welcome drink). 7pm ’til late. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira (04 295 6000).
Dinner and the theatre: Kempinski Hotel is offering the aptly named ‘Love and a Bit of Drama’ package, which includes theatre tickets to a performance of romantic comedy Almost, Maine, by Drama Dubai, followed by a five-course dinner at K Grill. The price includes dinner, a glass of bubbly and a theatre ticket. Show only - Dhs100. Dinner and show - Dhs415 per person. Show starts at 7.30pm; dinner can be booked from 9pm onwards. Kempinski, Mall of the Emirates (04 409 5999). Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, www.timeouttickets.com.
Beachside romancing: This super-romantic Valentine’s deal at Burj Al Arab restaurant Majilis Al Bahar includes a private table on the beach, a personal waiter and sommelier, four courses and bottles of scent for him and her. Dhs3,000 per couple. 7pm ’til late. Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah (04 301 7600).
Romantic Staycations A desert escape: Head into to the dunes of Liwa Desert and experience the luxury of Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. Couples can unwind together with a 90-minute Desert Romance massage, followed by a private three-course candlelit meal and an overnight stay. Dhs4,760 per couple. Qasr Al Sarab, near Liwa, qasralsarab.anantara.com (02 886 2088).
Staycation and spa: Enjoy one night in a polo suite, breakfast on your private terrace, a bath ritual, a 60-minute couples’ massage at Lime Spa, a five-course dinner in Rare (including a bottle of bubbly), a rose for the lady and chocolates to take away. Dhs3,600 per couple. Until February 29. Desert Palm Resort & Spa, near International City, Al Awir Road (04 323 8888).
Pull out the stops: Take a chauffeur-driven limousine to the InterContinental in Festival City before checking into a luxury suite for two. Then see the city at sunset (by helicopter, no less) before enjoying dinner at Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire. Spa treatments are also included, as well as breakfast in bed by chef Pierre Gagnaire (served by a butler, not the man himself). Dhs10,000 per couple. February 14 only. InterContinental Dubai Festival City, www.intercontinental.com (04 701 1127).